- by Janet St. John
Art & Soul Short #29
Lynda Miller. Morning Glories.
Colored pencil & ink on paper. 8-7/8" x 5-1/2"
They reminded her of France, of the house with a trellised arch at the gate, where pale blue flowers awoke on vines, opening to morning, to sun just rising over fields. It was 1943 when she left. Nothing should have stayed alive there. The world had gone dark and dead. Bled out color. But the flowers lived. Thrived in chalky soil at the house that had been tended so tidily until it wasn’t. In that house, her father-farmer and family had lived. Before he went to war. Before his wife delivered secret notes she thought a small way to resist, before she was caught, before her children went to little-known relatives. Land left alone, fields grew fallow. House silenced. No longer children’s screams and giggles, or the youngest daughter’s singing while she plucked blue-skinned flowers as high as she could reach from the trellis. She carried them wide-open in palms to the stream that ran at the foot of the hill, gently placed them on the glassy surface, watched them float and spin and bounce like runaway cups. She would watch until they disappeared downstream or caught in sharp rock crevices or filled with water and withered, drowning petal life. Those little blue boats were once hers and open to everything. That was before the sounds of artillery, before occupation and deprivation. Before the world transformed to frightful fairy tale. She could not believe the stories she overheard the baker’s wife tell other mothers in town. Until the stories came home to her family. Her mother taken.
In a New York gallery, two years into another American war in Asia, she saw a woman’s flower painting and wanted it for her true family home. She still hoped to reclaim the lonely French house that had formed her first memories. She wanted to shape new ones. Find a way to return. There would be so much work on a house long eaten by elements. But she was grown, a hard worker, had survived so much, was wife and soon-to-be mother. Letters in her native tongue from an aunt said the families’ fields were rich now and ready, having waited for a new farmer, new family, for an end to war. She didn’t know how, but she would make it happen. Because her aunt had said the morning glories were still growing, blooming on the arching gateway, and they were calling her home.
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